Many people ask this question. It’s a good one as most veterinarians are now recommending that dog owners use harnesses instead of collars. While there are new types of harnesses coming out all the time, most harnesses can be categorized as one of these five basic types:
Step-in harnesses are easy to use. They are adjustable, choke-free and come in a variety of colors, patterns and sizes. Most have two straps collected with a buckle at the ends and a perpendicular strap in the middle, forming the space for the dog’s front legs. The dog steps into the harness and the ends are brought up over the back and snapped together, making it simple to take on and off.
Gentle Leader Head Collar
Did you know the gentle leader has given more than 5 million dog owners the secret to stress-free walks! The Gentle Leader stops jumping, pulling, lunging, and other unwanted behaviors with immediate, gentle control. It places pressure on the back of the neck instead of the front of the delicate throat, preventing choking and coughing. The easy nose loop allows you to direct your dog’s head in the direction you want to go. Plus, it’s easy to fit and to get your dog used to wearing it (although some will try to rub it off by rubbing their nose on the ground and may not be an option for short-nosed dogs).
Standard or Roman Harness
These are the harness types that most people recognize. The standard slips over the dog’s head and one front leg goes into the “armhole” while the bottom strap is brought around and buckled. These harnesses can be adjusted for a custom fit and most of them now have a parachute clasp that closes so your dog can’t wiggle out. Standard and roman harnesses also come in a variety of colors and sizes.
These harnesses are increasing in popularity because they do not press on the dog’s neck. The leash attaches on the back, far away from your dog’s throat. Most do not adjust at the neck, but they do come in a variety of sizes, so most dogs will get a great fit. You measure your dog’s girth, which is the area just behind the front legs. These harnesses go on very easily—simply slip it over your dog’s head and put one front paw through the “armhole” and bring the strap around their tummy and snap.
Velcro is the key to this type of harness. This harness goes on the dog’s back and is smoothed closed around the dog’s neck and tummy. While these harnesses are very easy to put on, most are not adjustable so a good fit is key. Easy-on harnesses are an excellent choice for “escape artists” because they have good coverage and a snug fit.
These harnesses meet a specific need and solve a problem. An example of a unique harness is the shoulder harness. This is a simple, patented design. The dog’s legs go through the holes and the two sides overlap on the back for security. They are sized in one-inch increments and come in buttery soft leather for comfort.
Another unique harness is the EzyDog Harness. This is similar to other styles in that it is adjustable and has a step-in feature, however, it has a pliable chest plate that conforms to your dog’s shape and distributes pressure away from the neck.
The Backpack Harness allows your dog to carry some of the supplies that he may require on a walk such as poop bags or water. Lastly, there is the Figure Eight Harness. With a single-strap design, they can be good for tiny puppies and even cats. These harnesses are adjustable, but cannot be adjusted around the neck and tummy separately.
Since there are so many different types of harnesses that are all used for a variety of purposes, your local pet care professional can help you determine the best type of harness to fit your specific dog walking needs.
The Best Leash To Go With Your Dog’s Harness
As crucial as a well-fitting harness can be to your dog’s safety, it is also important to avoid using a retractable leash if your dog is prone to lunging or pulling during their walks. If a dog is attached to a retractable leash that is fully stretched, it is far too easy to trip and injury a fellow pedestrian. A retractable leash also makes it less likely for the owner to react quickly if their dog runs into the street or starts chasing after another animal.
To ensure your dog’s safety on your walks, make sure you have a well-fitting harness and a regular six-foot leash made of cloth, leather or nylon, to give you complete control of your pet.